Monday, February 25, 2013

a word of thanks for seed and soap

Getting nice things in the mail box is a sure way to cheer up my day.

...and by way of the blog, some nice things have arrived...

First, thanks goes out to Allison Rooney. Allison was kind enough to contact me to ask if I would allow her to use one of my blog photos.

Now, I've seen my photos yanked from my blog in the past..only to wind up in a description from other (and they WILL remain un-named) seed catalogs, so Allison restored my faith in my fellow man, and reminded me that people are still kind enough to ask permission to use my photos!

Allison told me that she came across my blog by way of Google. She was searching for photos/info regarding Whitney Crabapples ...that could be featured on the Marketday Foods website.

Allison is from Cloud Nine Farm (Wilsall, MT) Cloud Nine Farm was established in 2008 by Allison and Seann Rooney. They are using permaculture design principles to transform an over-grazed and barren patch of ground into an integrated, biodiverse, and fertile food production system. They never use toxic chemicals or GMO seeds, and instead use crop rotations, cover crops, mulches, and composts to build the soil. They also raise pastured laying hens and ducks, feed them certified organic feeds, and rotate the girls around farm fields to assist in soil building. They are currently experimenting with a combination of plantings of perennial herb/clover/grass pasture, a mobile poultry, and water-capturing earthworks as part of a mixed orchard building project. - Located 35 miles northeast of Bozeman.

Among other things, Allison designs and sells a really beautiful cold and drought tolerant pasture seed mix called Synergy West, with 17 different species of useful perennial plants suitable for poultry, goats, sheep, and cattle.

She offered me some of the seed to sample, and I cannot wait to plant it this spring! I'm sure it will be useful.

BTW...Cloud Nine Farms also sells Bare Root Fruit Trees and Plants..and my photo of Whitney Crabapples can be found here: it is the one with the eggs in the background.

Another big thank you goes out to Sara Dunham, from Punkin's Patch. If you have not visited her my favorite sheep blogspot, you should.

Sara takes wonderful photographs of sheep, and her captions always make me smile. She is woman of many talents, and there is always something interesting going on at her farm. Earlier this month, her blog featured a post about the life saving milk from the goats at Happy Goat Hills Farm.

The photos that were featured in the post were extra special, and I left a comment for Sara to let her know. My comment was randomly selected, and I won a bar of the lavender and lilac soap! Thank you!! And please extend my thanks to the good folks a Happy Goat Hills Farm. I didn't find a website for them, so if you are interested in getting some soap, you should contact Sara. It smells so fresh and clean, and is silky smooth!

Thursday, February 14, 2013


And it is true love, and i AM smitten.

All the signs are there. I'm preoccupied, and think about doing it even when I'm doing something else. My heart flutters palms sweat, but don't worry, my husband understands my new infatuation. He even made a short video of me in action.

Spinning from distaff to spindle. I am hooked. It is hopeless, I am addicted.
Soft singles fall off my fingers and onto my spindle.

I would do this all day if I could. It is an intellectual infatuation.

The yarn is spun from the point, and the spindle can be held and flicked in the same manner that a supported spindle is traditionally held. The tension from the yarn that is attached to the distaff, along with winding on in a fashion to prevent slippage.. allows me to avoid making a half hitch, before and after each make. here is a brief close up of what is happening...

And it is productive. When I fill a spindle, I'm winding off onto a nod, and skeining about 80 yards on average.

yes, I am smitten. happy valentines day!

Friday, February 08, 2013

moonbeams on my linen

I've been wanting to experiment with moonlight bleaching of linen, ever since I first heard about it. Finally, this winter, I decided to give it a try.

I had a few pieces of linen tape, leftover from a practice project that was woven on my Double Hole Tape Loom. It is perfect for my experiment because it has a handspun linen background with the pattern in red silk embroidery threads. The idea behind the moonlight bleaching, as I was told, is to whiten the linen but not fade the color of the embroidery threads. When I first heard about this, it was something I was told, my great grandmother would have done, in her homeland of Austria/Hungary. Believing that the sun rays were destructive to linens, the women spread them on bushes . In mansions and castles, racks were made for this purpose. I suspect the custom was practiced in other places around the globe as well.

So, my experiment began in January, I wet my linen tape, and hung it on the clothes line. Not very scientific, I know. And I'm not nearly as good at taking notes of my results as Wendy (my ravelry friend and cohort in lunar lightening- from Canada- who is also experimenting with moonlight bleaching). And I do confess, that there were a few days that my sample was exposed to sunlight as well (OK, so I forgot it was out there a few times, life gets busy, and moonlight experiments are not first priority).

After the last full moon, I realized that the handle of the tape had changed considerably. The linen was no longer stiff, but soft and pliable. At first glace, it did not appear to have changed much, but when placed alongside of the other sample, I belive it has started to whiten! It shined! It glistened! It captured that silvery essence from the magic of the moonbeams! What do you think? Can you see a difference? Which tape looks lighter? Left? Right?

Looking for written material or documentation on moonbeam bleaching is hard to come by. There is very little information available. In present day book form, Linda Heinrich in her book (The Magic of Linen…) has a reference taken from “Krajina Textiles” Slovene Textiles, CIBA Review (1966/1):19 by B. Bela Racic.... and writes that‘bleaching by the light of the moon was an old Slav custom. And Bette Hochberg's "Spin Span Spun" also notes bleaching by sun and moon.

Thanks to GoogleBooks, I found a few references. And while there were no books or documents written specifically on the subject, there is mention of the practice contained in books on other topics. Now, finding exact methods...or written instruction on the how's and where's and why's of the process, that is more challenging! I did find a notation about Linen Manufactures of England sending their finished linens to Holland for bleaching ("as the dews and moonlight are there more constant").

My favorite reference is found a book written in 1836, by Robert Mudie (also the author of "the British Naturalist". Robert wrote this book with the title :" A Popular Guide to the observation of Nature". I enjoy the way he writes and the observations he makes on a number of different topics. Here is how he explains that moonlight is really sunlight:

"Now our moonlight really comes from the sun, and is reflected to us form the surface of the mmon, just as we can throw light in a dark room by a mirror, or by whitewashing a wall opposite the door on which light can fall. Now the heat of the sun's light, and also the greater part of the red rays, enter into and are absorbed by the moon : and thus moonlight wants the golden brightness of the direct rays of the sun, and is in consequence silvery, and has a little of a bluish tint in it."

And here, (about 2/3rd down the page) he makes note about the practice of moonlight bleaching:

And here, he explains why the moonlight is stronger in winter:

I will continue to experiment with the moonbeams on linen...there is another full moon in February, yet to come, around the 25th. There is a good chance there will still be a frost. The full moon in February is sometimes call the Snow Moon, or Hunger Moon. With winter storm Nemo about to pay us a visit, snow may still be on the ground by the 25th.

In preparation for more experiments, I am weaving more tape.

Three more tapes have been woven with my handspun linen for my current project. These will be sewn together. I'm learning a lot about how my handspun behaves as linen tape. There are areas where I have a bit of open weave, that I'm not sure about why that is happening. Is it due to my tension on the tape as I weave, or is it with the handspun variations in the thread itself? I'm using my handspun singles to sew the tapes together.

On the first try, it soon became apparent that if I intended to use a single to sew with, I should pay close attention to the direction of the twist. I'm using a back-stitch to sew the tapes together, and if the wrong end of the single enters the eye of the needle, I wind up going against the twist and the linen thread soon begins to pull apart.

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